The numbers kept growing. The time felt right.
With a running boom in full bloom, and U.S. Olympic marathoner Frank Shorter a national hero, five more miles certainly seemed like such a small step in the right direction.
After all, the Quad-Cities mini-marathon was such an annual event in those days, one competitor even refered to running in a barely-attended summer race in Davenport as ``the Bix Beiderbecke one.''
A year before Clarke hatched grand plans to expand the event to the marathon distance -- and run from Cambridge to Orion and back, ``because they're 13 miles apart'' -- a record 137 runners turned out for the 1975 races of seven or 21 miles.
Included were a whopping 70 -- 30 over the previous November -- braving the freezing temperatures for the fifth annual trek from Geneseo to Colona.
The QC mini-marathon had grown so big, it needed a new direction.
``There was the problem of running on Route 6, which was getting dangerous with so many people because those 18-wheelers don't slow down for you,'' Clarke told The Dispatch back then.
Thus, the old layout where runners ended up 15 miles from where they started, was scrapped and the race was moved to a start/finish line at Geneseo High for a loop around the Maple Leaf city.
Cornbelt also took over control that year from founding event fathers, ``East Moline High School running coaches'' Gary Phillips and Jim Wesselmann.
``It got too big for two people to handle,'' Dispatch staffer Ron Sutton wrote in explanation. ``That, too, is why it could turn into a full-fledged marathon next year.''
It didn't happen, of course.
Like the many attempts that have followed since Clarke's now-hollow words, plans for a QC Marathon never have gone the distance.
Oh sure, there was the first 26-mile marker, a 1978 marathon sponsored by Eby's Sporting Goods. The race started at Moline's SouthPark Mall and snaked around the outskirts of the Quad City Airport on Indian Bluff Road.
``I still have a t-shirt from that one,'' East Moline's Joe Moreno exlaimed.
Moline's Ben McAdams has memories of that event, too, having run in a seven-mile race that day while then-son-in-law Walter Trice competed in the marathon.
Four years later, McAdams competed in a QC Marathon of his own, one starting from the Moline YMCA.
``I know I finished,'' he said.
That event was finished, too. A 1983 revival on the SouthPark race course failed, too.
``Back then, they called it the QC Marathon, but it was just a label,'' recalled Davenport's Doug Foster, one of 350 competitors in '83. ``But they only ran it through Moline.''
Then, there was the Athlete's Foot shoe store throwing its support behind a marathon starting and finishing at Rock Island's Augustana College.
The May 6, 1984 event crossed over into Iowa via the Centennial Bridge and looped through Davenport and Bettendorf before snaking back to the Illinois side through Arsenal Island.
``I've got a copy of the application sheet right here,'' Augie cross-country Fred Whiteside laughed while accidently coming the piece of nostalgia in his files.
``Says here the Quad Cities Marathon records belong to Dave Hoover (2:19.51) and Bev Boddicker (2:49.54), which I assume was set on the course out by SouthPark. Nobody touched those times here.''
Nor could they, considering the crazy course. Yet, a year later, the same loop was run with different sponsors as the CBRC and WQAD-TV presented the ``One Quad Cities Marathon.''
``I have a plaque on the wall in the office here from that race,'' Whiteside cracked. ``It was one, all right.''
The last one. Until now, at least.
Since then, Augie has hosted the Quad Cities Distance Classic, but a marathon has been missing from the equation and the area's ample running scene. In 1986, the QCDC moved to a 5K and half-marathon.
Yet, these ghosts of marathons past are hardly haunting to Moreno, Foster, Whiteside and the current race committee poised to present the Quad Cities Sports Commission's first QC Marathon.
``This is a totally different event,'' said Foster, in charge of this event's elite runners. ``This is a lot bigger event. Just look at the sponsors.''
Deere and Co. tops an impressive list.
``Those others, they just got by, so we know this is an event where we can not just get by,'' said Moreno, this marathon's race director.
``Those marathons all folded, not because of a lack of participation, but because it was a sponsor's decision. That's why we can't rely on only one sponsor for this. We need everybody to get behind it -- runners and non-runners.''
So far, so good.
``There's a bunch of other race directors heavily involved with it besides Joe,'' Foster said. ``You've got the mayors behind it, and the Quad-Cities Sports Commission -- which wasn't even around back then -- and all these great sponsors. It's just much, much bigger than initially we all envisioned.''
Everybody, except for Dick Clarke, quite possibly.